When drafting an estate plan, many adults consider the best way to leave their assets to their children. However, a number of older adults struggle with issues of estate planning when they have no children. Not only must childless adults in New Jersey and elsewhere decide who will inherit their money and possessions, but they must consider who will handle financial and health care decisions if they are unable to make those decisions themselves.
Drafting a will is a basic part of any estate plan, but it is critical for childless adults without a spouse or domestic partner. An individual who dies without a will and no heirs will typically have their assets distributed to the closest living relative. It is also important for childless individuals to determine an executor or personal representative to ensure that their final wishes are fulfilled.
When a childless person is no longer able to make their own financial or medical decisions, they need one or more people they can trust to act in their best interest in these matters. A document identifying friends or loved ones who can make these decisions can be included in the estate plan. However, these documents are not always legally recognized.
Childless adults in New Jersey may pursue several estate planning options to meet their unique needs. Legal options include designating a durable power-of-attorney to handle financial affairs and drafting a living will that provides directions for medical treatment. Any individual, childless or not, can benefit from investigating all aspects of estate planning in order to ensure that their wishes are met.
Source: jweekly.com, “How do I plan for end-of-life issues when I have no children?,” Rob Tufel, Dec. 14, 2012